Skip to main content

tv   [untitled]    July 7, 2012 10:00pm-10:30pm EDT

10:00 pm
record they had. >> all weekend american history tv is featuring jefferson city, missouri. learn more about jefferson city and c-span's local content vehicle at our website. you are watching american history tv. >> this week on the civil war, two speakers from the us capitol historical society civil war symposium. first fergus bordewich and then economic's professor genny bo
10:01 pm
bourne. this is a little over and hour and 15 minutes. >> our first speaker tonight has written "america's great debate" which is a fabulous read the moment when henry clay, steven douglas, john c calhoun, daniel webster are there debating the future of america. it could actually be called the apiecement of 1850. and that is what i say to this book that we just published and we kcan -- he is a journalist ad
10:02 pm
he writes for a number of newspapers including the "wall street journal." each though he reviewed my book on millard fillmoore, we are still friends. he gave me a wonderful review and i thank him for that publicly. i'm delighted to have fergus start this conference. >> good morning. first let me thank paul, lauren
10:03 pm
and the u.s. capitol society for making this possible. each one of which is several which i have attended have been fascinating in its own way. you are running a tadd late so i'm going to dive in and move quickly. i'm going to be talking about the joint committee on the conduct of the war that was a committee whose job which created itself to monitor the conduct of the war. and how did it come to be, who was on it and what effect did it have. it is a complicated subject and it begins with the battle of bull run july 21st, 1861.
10:04 pm
i guess you know the unimaginable happened. after a day's fighting the federal army collapsed before the shocked eyes of tourists society ladies. soldiers fled on mules and on foot. among the on lookers were two particular men who figure in this story. one was ben wade who jumped out of his carriage and with the help of his friend senator chandler of michigan. they pushed over their carriage to form a barrier and couldn't stop the panic. however, what they saw that day would have a lasting impact on the war. it would stream relations between congress and the president and end careers between officers and the union
10:05 pm
army and leave a legacy that stretched forward to the civil war. most expected the union to overwhelm the a matter of weeks. in the months that followed the troops faced each other across the pfotomac river. on october 21st, they attacked near leesburg 38 miles up the potomac. half the union force was killed, wounded or captured and among the dead was senator edward
10:06 pm
baker of oregon who was a personal friend of lincoln and the only senator ever killed in battle. the outraged the north. it was a skirmish when you compare it to what happened in the following years. added to the military passivity, the army was infiltrated with traitors and high-ranking officers had failed to do their duty at the cost of lives. in wartime, americans and other nations of course hunt for traitors in their own ranks. not to mention the persistent
10:07 pm
har rasment of muslim americans since 9/11. during the civil war yankees have more reason for that kind of anxiety. copperheads were numerous and democr democrats encouraged the resistance. hundreds of army officers had defected. so when union generals seemed to shy away from battle, it stoked suspicion to the point of pa paranoya. chandler, his statue, this was a statue of him in the hall where two statues are permitted.
10:08 pm
he was dispatched back to michigan and i'd like to think that he will be recovered and restored to his place of honor. he helped finance the underground railroad. at any rate. radical republicans such as chandler were defined by their commitment to the mediate emancipation of slaves and a hard aggressive war policy. they were a minority in their own party.
10:09 pm
in late 1861 the numbers were different. the debate was sharp. the arguments still resonate today. republican senator foster of connecticut opposed any investigation of the army whatsoever asserting that war was best left to the generals. he protested i believe in letting the military authorities manage the army. if they manage it badly we shall make a bad matt interfering. he declared that congress's duty to the voters was to investigate
10:10 pm
the army's failures if it was not willing to investigate itself. and it was not subsequently the impressive record of the military investigating itself. so, what are we to do? sit idle during the period that the war is in progress? we are not under the command of the war of this country. they are under ours. at thany rate, the committee wod be compriced of two republicans and two democrats and the free mandate to pretty much any aspect of the war.
10:11 pm
now wade was as tough and difficult a man as was sent. you can't tell from this picture, but he was stout and 1/4 and chiselled from a block of granite and with a pow erful voice and pro fain vocabulary and was intense outspoken free thinker and his enemies called him just about anything from a scavenger to a bulgarian. i like him. so, at the end of 1861, it was the seat of government, rooms had been turned into battle. they had been seen swinging from
10:12 pm
ropes. bread was being baked in the basement and the aroma of it was perklating upward and things are more unpleasant here every day. the senate chamber is alive with lies and it makes my head itch to bng it. every hole and corner is defiled. so this is the atmosphere of the capitol. and this was the atmosphere in which the joint committee met. in room s-124 just off the corridor, the artist was working on his frescos outside the room where this committee met. interesting. 11 different men served on the
10:13 pm
committee. wade was by far the most active. and radical republican congressman of indiana and daniel booch of massachusetts were also very effective of driving the committee. in later years the committee's reputation plummeted with the radical republicans during the jim crow area and jim crow historians is what i'm fatalkin about, writing in 1939, t harry
10:14 pm
williams condemned the committee -- terrible for promoting has hatred and delivering fostering a war si psych psychosis in the north. when harry truman formed his own special committee in the eve of world war ii he regarded the civil war committee's negative precedent. the reports are all online by the way, they makebrate remake great reading. freeman blamed the comment for
10:15 pm
gross interference and lamb based his work at unpatriotic. okay, so here we are, in the mid centennial and civil war half a century of the enactment of the century and so, i think it is absolutely the perfect time to look at what the committee did and to extract from the deep ch shadows. the results were complex and in a new cases unfortunate.
10:16 pm
they hoelped to turn the war ino a racial ref are lugs. human rights were far ahead of their time and were strong-willed men who were determines to shape a war effort which was at best in different and frankly hostile. they understood what kind of war would need to be food. in practice, the committee's day-to-day work consisted of take i taking from army officers. none of the -- were public however, they leaked a great
10:17 pm
deal. it was cited as one of the fatal short comings. and i will come back to that later whether it was really a shortcoming. they produced 2,000 pages of reports. and the conduct from bull run to the petersburg creator. and the management of the potomac and the loyalty of senior officers and not surprisingly this committee irritate ed military men by askg questions about their strategy, problems, motivations and failures. the committee considered the abuse of union prisoners and the military administration and the
10:18 pm
development of iron clad ships and the slaughter of friendly indians in colorado. throughout its deliberations the committee an initiative that conservative officers stopped throughout the years. the committee in the words of bruce tap who wrote a history of the committee's work, entitled, "looking over the shoulder". it is pretty well written. the committee is looking over the committee's shoulder.
10:19 pm
in shulting the president the committee is inpatient with his approach to equality for blacks. his speech is way typical of radicals and declared that the quoting the uncondition al total law in which they can derive maintenance of the war day after day, year after year so long as the war shall continue thus producing poverty and want. every war has brought a struggle between congress and war power. the constitution is somewhat
10:20 pm
ambiguo ambiguous. providing congress to raise and support armies. even harry tr are uman still recognized in congressional oversight and this is true in wartime. only by investigation can it review and ascertain how and to what extent they should be modified. they frequently met today we are accustomed to a dominant executi executive. lincoln himself is a product of legislative dominance. he never complained of in flyflyn fringement on the office of the
10:21 pm
president as much as the committee sometimes irritated him. he never refused to cooperate with him. his challenge towards mcclellan, now, an odor of political part sanship created an issue that has to be addressed. those favored were usually republicans. the speech, indicative of radical sentiments delivered to the house in 1863 declared flatly that the republican party stood for freedom. not only is it that they are
10:22 pm
rebells and democrats loyalty and republicanism throughout the union as treason and slavery. strong words the committee issued it's first report. the report was on the whole thoroughnd investigation bluffed and charles gave rise to persistent accusation of witch are largely unjustifiable. he was a career army officer and a democrat.
10:23 pm
as a division commander he had ordered the crossing of the potomac and the investigation revealed shocking miscommunication among senior officers and found three leaky boats to take 2,000 federal troops across the river that guaranteed that they would be trapped and butchered. be that as it may a parade of witnesses told a committee that weeks before the battle stone had sent packages across the river returned slaves to their masters to cultivate on the maryland side of the river. much of this was rumor.
10:24 pm
after the debacle, he was tagged as a traitor as well as incompetent. i'm going to skip quotes i have here of those who testified that are fairly shocking but fundamentally hearsay. he was a military prisoner in new york and the charges were later dropped. if he was guilty of anything apart from snobbery, by today's stand ar standards, his abuse of civil rights was flagrant. he did not consider the 5th amendment valid.
10:25 pm
stone was never allowed to face his accusers until 1863. stone was made to work. by the time the committee's report came out his bluff had been eclipse d the primary and far better giojustified person george mckellen. wealthy, arrogant, west point trained, he was tapped to take charge of the army following two tiny victories that he won in western virginia which were won by subordinate commanders.
10:26 pm
newspapers dubbed him the young napoleon. he had mastered washington, and marched and drilled and dug trenches and then marched and dug more. he demanded more troops always a asserting that he was faced by large members of the enemy. apart from his talents as a drill master. he provided it. he was an albatross for the union war effort. in the a tom of 61 and the winter of 62, he wondered if it seemed like a betrayial of the
10:27 pm
army in exthe assumption and finally he struck on the rivers in which the campaign of all the troops he could find and collectively it became another embarrassing defeat. he sailed back complaining all the way that he had been outnumbered. at any rate. the committee throughout 1816
10:28 pm
detailed investigations activi y activities of the army, many of his officers to quote one joseph hooker and we'll come back in a minute. joe hooker who was a favorite of the frontline division and later super seeded mcclel len. he was asked to what do you attribute the failure of the campaign? he replied -- he gives much testimony of this type on the part of subordinate officers and is therefore provides what the committee is criticized for.
10:29 pm
also he was self interested, he was pretty much right. the committee's 1863 report, failing to reinforce in the summer of 62 contribute iing fo fail i failing in september in 1862 and allowing to escape on the potomac. the report pull verrized general mcclel la

114 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on